"Secret Storm" memories.

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I am a new member, and in an earlier post on the defunct, "Best of Everything," I mentioned that I had also watched "Secret Storm" as a youngster during my grammer school years. It's neat to see such young people expressing what I hope is a genuine interest in the program, (and rather surprising for me--as I have a nephew who's 20). In any case, Carl and Amello both very kindly requested further dope on the show, and at the risk of dating myself, (I'm 53) I will be happy to oblige. This is off the cuff, stream of memory posting rather than an in depth plot synopsis, which I would be, in any case, unable to completely supply, and which I believe has been documented in several books available at the public library.

"Secret Storm" aired in the late afternoon, and, thus, like the "Edge of Night" was comparatively easy to see after returning home from school. (depending on any number of other factors, such as haircuts, dental appts. etc)--my point being, that in those pre-VCR days, there was no such thing as "time-shifting" so that what you missed--you missed! Nor, were there newspaper soap synopsis, which are common in the TV pages of many daily's today.

I suppose, the best place to begin is the line up of players as I recall them, which I am sure, will leave out many worthy people--but the ones that really stuck in this then kids' impressions.

Marjorie Gateson, a veteran of stage and screen, who looked like a rather more aristocratic version of movie actress Helen Twelvetrees, (who was before my time!--but you can research her and get photos on the WEB) was I would say "the star" in terms of her centrality, when I began seeing it in the mid 60's. Those of you reading this, can "see" Marjorie Gateson via Cable TV or home video, as she appeared in many films of the 30's and 40's in roles that somewhat anticipated her performance as "Grace Tyrrel" on "Secret Storm", (hereinafter SS). She was in fact, the genteel, grande dame, of a type no longer in existence in our "popular culture" as they say.

By way of a side bar, (and I say this in reference to Carl's kind reference to the Guiding Light clips, which I watched and brought back many memories--Lynne Adams, and Fran Myers, (who always specialized in these neurotic scenes)GL was very much of a middle class show, that is, the Bauers, with Old World Papa, hard drinking, (and despite the necktie, blue-collerish Ed)--strong medical/hospital tie ins, department store furniture, and with women in the cast that looked like women in one's own neighborhood--not, (at least in the 60's--it changed later I'm told) a glamourous show.

SS was not that way. Its tone or flavor if you prefer, was altogether upper crust, its fictional setting, "Woodbridge" would have been more like Westchester, Ct--well heeled matrons with sucessfull husbands, comparatively chic settings, with antiques etc. Not that there weren't characters from lower rank-there were, I'm just referring to the tone.

Which leads me back to Miss Gateson (Grace Tyrrel), who was the heiress and controller of Tyrell's Department Store. Grace led a gracious life, and had the kind of flawless diction what doesn't hear anymore. Her maid was none other than Margaret Hamilton, (yes the Wicked Witch of the West) who would do SS during the day when she was appearing at night on the Broadway stage, (very common at the time for daytime actors to be on stage at night--how did they ever learn their lines!!!)

I can see, Grace Tyrrell in one of her expensive dark suits, or "daytime dresses" trying to reason with her willful daughter--Pauline as they both sat before the silver tea service with Margaret Hamilton serving in full maid's uniform (the movie buffs amongst you may know that M. Hamilton frequently played domestics on screen and stage).

The "Woodbridge" context then, was of a conservative town, where "quiet" wealth counted, and reputations mattered. Today it would be called snobbish.

Now, in Pauline, the ever hand wringing, (or should I say handkerchief wringing since women still carried embroidered handkerchiefs) Grace--had a tigress by the tail.

And not really by the tail, since Pauline almost always had her own way! By the time I watched Pauline, (played by Haila Stoddard--one of the really formidable stage actresses of the 20th century--in the original cast of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"--she also moonlighted)Pauline was married to Arthur Rysdale, who was the publisher of "The Wooodbridge Clarion" the town's leading newspaper.

Pauline, (very nordic, blonde, and stylish with an almost little girlish voice that concealed a real schemer--think of sort of a blonde Tallulah Bankhead type) was always "up to something". And it was hard to imagine her as Grace's daughter--since Grace was so virtuous (rebellion I suppose).

In the mid 60's, Pauline's son Kip Rysedale, was very much front and center, and involved with several of the women in the cast, all of whom were vying for him. Nice looking, in an earnest, polite way, Kip loved Amy Ames, and Janet Hill (Bibi Besch) simultaneously, before he was written out, by being called up to military service, in Germany, and later Vietnam, (though he wanted to be a doctor). Kip was the object of much attention during the 1964-1966 time span and was on very frequently. He is also, of a type, I think a vanished breed today, well bred, well spoken, well coiffed, and in a neck tie usually--and very young--say 25 or so.

Bibi Besch, played Janet Hill, and I can't remember exactly how she came into the cast, but she was very much a trouble maker and was married to a man named Bob Hill, whom I remember, but not too much about. She was related to Valerie Hill, (more on her later) who married Peter Ames.

Sorry this is so disorganized--rather stream of consciousness, but bear with me.

Peter Ames, had of course, been at the very beginning of the show, some ten years before I joined it. As you may know, he was a widower, with two children Jerry and Amy Ames.

By the time I was SS, Peter Ames was played by Ward Costello. Peter had a VERY troubled history with Pauline, which was still very rough in the mid 60s, and included hostility to Valerie Hill, (because Peter loved her and not Pauline.

His children, Jerry, Susan and Amy were continuing focal points, (particularly Amy) for nearly 20 years.

Valerie Hill, (played by Lori March) is probably the woman I most associate with SS during the period I watched. She came on about the time I started to watch, and was on when I stopped, (Marjorie Gateson had a stroke in 68 and never came back). At that time, (no longer I believe) the CBS serials had a heroine, usually a woman in early middle age, who was attractive, and a paragon of virtue. At that time, (and in order to distance her from the schemers and vixens) the heroine embodied honor, nobility and chastity. She was the woman, the female viewers viewed as "their sister" and with whom they would commisserate with.

Lori March was SS's heroine in the second half of the 60's. Her speaking voice was creme de la creme--she was "finishing school" material, and so it was, perfectly natural, that long widowed Peter Ames would marry her, which he did, (and I can remember the wedding with her little pillbox hat and veil). Jerry and Amy took to Valerie, though Susan had reservations.

Now to Peter's children.

Jerry was an amiable young man in the second half of the 60's--I remember his presence, but nothing very particular. His sister's however, now that's a different story.

Susan Ames, (Dunbar--married to Allan Dunbar when I watched) was a complicated woman. The role was played by Judy Lewis during my days as a viewer. Miss Lewis was the daughter of screen super star Loretta Young. Though supposedly adopted, I always felt that Miss Lewis looked much like her famous Mom, and it has since been suggested that she was in fact really her natural daughter.

Susan was a fascinating lady, deep, ruminative, attractive, but very reserved and not quick to shower affection on Valerie or anyone else. When I started the show, she was married to Allan Dunbar, (can't remember who played him first--sorry) who had a drinking problem. I remember Allan pouring liquor from cut glass decanters in the middle of the day--he also got sent to Vietnamn--and was declared dead--which lead the way to Susan and Frank Carver, (Laurence Luckenbill). She had a little blonde son, named after her father and called "Petie" who was featured quite often.

Am going to have to run off in a minute--getting a bit exhausted as it heads toward 1:00 a.m. here--will have to pick up on more later--we'll get to Amy(Jada Rowland), Belle (!) (played by beautiful Marla Adams), Joan Crawford, Belle's daughter Robin, movie star Troy Donahue, (yes he was on as a villain--and what an end he met).

SS was moody, really moody and that's not a cliche--it was serious--and didn't pander too much to an audience craving stupidity. Scenes were intense and the acting was good. The sets were evocative and I remember details of the homes, (Valerie's particularly) since I was interested in set design at that time. And every living room had a stocked bar, with a loaded ice bucket and tongs! for mid afternoon "jolts". I once asked my mother why our liquor wasn't out, and "ready always" like it was in Woodbridge.

And the clothes. The feminine viewers must have had a field day at the elegant wardbrobes, (women didn't wear slacks then--jewelry, heels, the works--every day. So noted were the clothes on SS, that the New York Times wrote a feature article in 1964, on the kinds of dresses sported by the different generations of players, (Grace, Valerie, Pauline, Susan, and Amy were all photographed for it)--sometimes the actresses liked them so much they bought them for themselves).

I have several stark memories, one of which I'll close with.

October 1966--A character by the name of Brooke Ames is causing major trouble. Brooke is a villainous par excellence and she really has it in for Valerie. Can't remember her origins or what her particular plot motivations were. But one scene I'll never forget.

Brooke, (a very expensive looking model type with Scavullo style lips and hair in a tight chignon) takes a pair of scissors out of the drawer, and stabs her hand. As she wraps her bleeding finger, she phones Valerie.

I can still remember parts of the dialogue: "Valerie, can you come over--I've just cut myself pruning some roses and I haven't an antiseptic in the house" She smiles in tight close up as Val agrees to come and she hangs up the phone.

Valerie arrives and moments later the confrontation with Val that Brooke wanted ensues.

Brooke spews all her venom at Valerie, at which Valerie says, "Brooke you haven't a sparkle of honesty in you".

At this, Brooke picks up a letter opener from the desk and tries to stab Val. In the struggle between the two women that follows, Valerie accidentally stabs Brooke who falls to the floor dead.

"Brooke, Brooke...Oh Dear Heaven" Val turns to survey the dissaray the fight has created, cups her hand to her mouth and flees...the organist really had a job on his hand that days, as the throbbing chords punctuated Val's flight.

No less than famous British writer Alec Waugh, (brother of Evelyn, "Brideshead Revisited" Waugh) wrote an article in the "National Review" about his addiction to "Secret Storm" at this time, and how he dreaded leaving the US to return to England since he would have to miss it, and his friends would have to keep him up on the plot on transatlantic telephone calls. It had an appeal to intellectuals.

Don't know whether this disorganized rant has been any help. Hope so. And please excuse typos as I was rushing.

All best,

BU

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Thanks so much for letting us know about these classic scenes and characters.

This is just priceless, these are real memories, not something which has been done and dusted in various soap summary books. The way you describe Secret Storm sounds very complex and yet also very easy for a viewer to get into, as it sounds like they took pains to make the characters relateable, even with the expensive hair and the wardrobe. The stuff about Marjorie Gateson and her maid, and then the unbalanced woman Brooke, I can see all that in my mind.

Did you see Amy as an important part of the show? I know that her struggles, like having a child with an older man, took up a lot of story time.

Were you still watching when they began killing off or writing out most of the Ames family?

You might be interested in this, it's a few episodes, one from 1960 and one from 1955.

http://www.archive.org/details/Secret_1960

http://www.archive.org/details/TheSecretStorm

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Thanks so much for letting us know about these classic scenes and characters.

This is just priceless, these are real memories, not something which has been done and dusted in various soap summary books. The way you describe Secret Storm sounds very complex and yet also very easy for a viewer to get into, as it sounds like they took pains to make the characters relateable, even with the expensive hair and the wardrobe. The stuff about Marjorie Gateson and her maid, and then the unbalanced woman Brooke, I can see all that in my mind.

Did you see Amy as an important part of the show? I know that her struggles, like having a child with an older man, took up a lot of story time.

Were you still watching when they began killing off or writing out most of the Ames family?

You might be interested in this, it's a few episodes, one from 1960 and one from 1955.

http://www.archive.org/details/Secret_1960

http://www.archive.org/details/TheSecretStorm

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Gah....I look for anything/everything I can find regarding Secret Storm, especially the mid-to-late 60s era of the show. Thank you so much for sharing all your memories! I look forward to more!

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This was so great to read. It really seems TSS was easily one of the best. I wonder how it would have fared at the Emmy's has it stayed around.

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Thanks very much for the links. I greatly enjoyed the color promos you linked--they are from the original video masters and not kinescopes. Although it's just a snippet at least you get to see Val and Belle in a tense scene in a tiny corner of Belle's living room. Perhaps you can freeze frame it to get a good look.

Yes, I was watching when they began phasing out the Ames. When I have some more time, I will weigh in with the rest of what I can say about the show.

And take good cheer! You are very young and I feel certain that kinescopes of SS will continue to emerge in years to come. Although they always deny it, "no episodes of Joan Crawford are known to exist" they in fact do. In case, I forget to say so later, Miss Crawford seemed fine in her shows--someone has an axe to grind in saying otherwise--a convenient enough charge to make, since they know the shows aren't extant right now to disprove them.

Roy Winsor's estate as well as the production staff are bound to have kinescopes. Likewise scattered TV stations who used them when the show had been pre-empted and was telecast later.

Laurence Luckenbill once told the NYT's that he was saving episodes that contained his best work to show to his children and grandchildren.

CBS has never publicized it but they have managed to cough up shows when it behooved them. For instance when "Search for Tomorrow" went off in 86, the final show was crammed with clips. In the late 70's a soap opera special hosted by Bert Convy, had clips from 1963 of Convy's stint on "Love of Life" So don't give up hope.

Although like many of the new technologies, the Internet has mainly hastened the cultural meltdown and promoted the spread of techno-zombies, technology has improved some things, and although You Tube is 98% mind wasting garbage, the kinescopes on there of the early serials are a real boon to young peope like yourself who are above the rest of your generation in your discernment and taste.

You may also be interested in seeking out photographic stills. These offer great visual detail of the players, clothes, sets etc. Fortunately, there are quite a few stills out there. And finally, I have it on excellent authority, that a very early Marjorie Gateson episode (say 1955) is out there, as this person was shown it only about 2 years ago--so I suspect there are still some pleasant "Secret Storm" experiences in your future.

Enjoy your holiday weekend.

BU

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I hope you're right. I do think you are, because when I was looking for some promos yesterday I found two GL clips I had never seen before, they were on the CBS Youtube, they were of the final black and white scenes and an early color scene.

So what did you think of Joan's daughter? And did you recognize Margaret Hamilton when you were watching Secret Storm at the time, or only later on did you put together that it was her?

I agree with you about Joan. Her acting style was suited to daytime soaps of that era, and Faye played her as doing a decent job in Mommy Dearest.

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Now this sounds like my kind of show. :) In terms of the posh, upper-crust tone, your description reminds me of what others have said of the short-lived Lovers and Friends/For Richer, For Poorer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your recollections, I felt like a child sitting Indian style listening to a marvelous story unfold.

Have you ever visited the Paley Cener (formerly the Museum of TV & Radio)? The next time I go, I will do a search of SS.

You mentioned Larry Luckinbill, I understand that his former wife, Robin Strasser, played the role of Iris Ocasek. Robin hasn't shared much (or anything, to my knowledge) about her time on the show, would you share any memories of the character?

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I hope you're right. I do think you are, because when I was looking for some promos yesterday I found two GL clips I had never seen before, they were on the CBS Youtube, they were of the final black and white scenes and an early color scene.

So what did you think of Joan's daughter? And did you recognize Margaret Hamilton when you were watching Secret Storm at the time, or only later on did you put together that it was her?

I agree with you about Joan. Her acting style was suited to daytime soaps of that era, and Faye played her as doing a decent job in Mommy Dearest.

"Secret Storm" Addendum

Thanks to all of you for you kind remarks. Although I haven't much time at the moment I will try to memorialize some more SS material for you.

But first let me answer your questions. No I havnen't visited the Paley Center, (though when I am next in Manhatten I should attempt to do so) which leads me into my next point.

All of you have the gift of youth and an interest in preserving our daytime serial broacast history. Let your voices be heard! Write Proctor and Gamble and ask them to make copies of their "Edge of Night" archive available to the Museum of Broadcasting in New York. Write the staff of these shows--Roy Winsor's family, producers, writers, many of whom are still active as the Internet Movie Database indicates. Contact the performers--Jada Rowland who is now an artist, Judy Lewis who wrote her bio a number of years ago, Mr. Luckenbill, etc, etc,

For example, someone posted that Patty McCormack had very fond memories of "Best of Everything." Well rather than speculate about what they were, contact her, and ask her to share them.

Despite its role in social and intellectual decline, the Internet has increased connectiviy, and ease in making such connections. The Museum of Broadcasting should also be contacted. What kind of efforts are they making to acquire this material? After all, they are there to serve the public and scholars.

For example, I read several years back that the producer of "Never Too Young" an ABC soap, had kinescopes of every episode at his home! Well if no one does anything how will they see them?

Persistence, and numbers--you know--if enough people ask--if enough people show a genuine interest. Who knows--someone associated with Storm or Best of E, etc. might even have a original video master of a few of the shows.

Now to a few more SS memories.

Yes, I immediately recognized Margaret Hamilton on the show. I am a "Wizard of Oz" nut and probably would have recognized her on a crowded subway!

Don't remember where I left off the other day but I believe it was about Amy. Jada Rowland played Amy and among the younger players--she was the show's focal point--which is to say she was the young adult principal in the cast.

Amy was a delicate, elfin woman, and Jada Rowland was a very good actress.

Amy was sensitive and intelligent but also vulnerable. Though she was never portrayed as a wanton, she, nonetheless compromised herself with handsome English professor, Paul Brittan, whom she met at the local University.

She ended up "in trouble" and Paul did the honorable thing in marrying her. They had a little girl named Lisa. Their relationship was threatened by the fact that Amy was still in love with Kip Rysdale, whom she had been dating, and Paul was weak in the face of temptation.

I don't recall that there was any question of Lisa's paternity, since Amy's relationship with Kip had been on the up and up.

Ultimately, Paul and Amy's marriage seemed a success until late 1967 when Belle Clemens (Marla Adams) entered the picture. Marla Adams was stunning to look at and her "Belle" quite literally became the talk of the town. Again a very Nordic type--a cool blonde with blazing, deep set blue eyes, and very symmetrical features. A real looker!

Belle was the daughter of Charlie Clemens (played by ex 40's movie star Jeffrey Lynn--SS was getting a lot of big ex movie names and that time, and I can remember Joan Crawford and Mr. Clemens being photographed together on the set, since they had both been under contract to Warner Bros at the same time).

An interruption here, lest I forget to answer someone's question--I both saw Christina and Joan Crawford on Storm. Christina played Joan Borman, a malcontented, lower class woman who was married to Keith Charles, whom I believe was in the cast of Broadway's "The Fantasticks".

For her part, let me assure you Joan Crawford was fine! They may have had to cover for her with some tape editings, but believe me the Crawford you saw on screen was in full control of her material--very professional. There were similar alchohol issues with her appearance on "The Lucy Show" and her film, "Berserk," but after some early misbehavior, in both cases she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and delivered authorative portrayals. I do think, the serial format probably scared her, but that's natural when you are over sixty and have never done it before--particulary the speed with which she had to learn new daily scripts for her six day run on the show. To be fair to her, I think many of us would have been intimidated by that.

Now back to the plot...

Charlie Clemens was the publisher of the rival newspaper to the Rysedale "Woodbridge Clarion" and Belle returned to his home to live in late 1967. There was also another young blonde woman living with Charlie at that time. In real life, this actresses' first name was Beverly, but I can't recall her name on the show. I think she was Belle's younger sister, but she may have been a cousin etc. Sorry, memory fades here.

Most important, Belle brought her young daughter Robin. I don't remember whether Belle was a widow or a divorcee when she returned to her father's home in Woodbridge. Robin was about 11 with long dark hair she always wore pulled back in a headband. Moreover, Robin was a special needs child. If her specific condition was ever mentioned I don't recall, but though she didn't appear retarded in of the usual clinical senses, she was troubled, distant, vague and possibly autistic, (perhaps owing to an irregular childhood).

Not long after she arrived in Woodbridge, Belle managed to insinuate herself into Woodbridge society, and was invited to dinner at the home of Valerie Hill Ames, (who had this time been widowed--Peter having died in a plane crash). Paul and Amy were also there that night, and after dinner that night, over coffee and cognac, Belle set her sites on Paul Brittain.

Soon they were having an affair and the huge new conflict of the show was Belle vs. Amy. This was an interesting rivalry since Belle was not your cardboard villainous. She herself was emotionally wounded, and this made her especially fascinating.

Amy lost that round, however, and Paul left Amy to marry Belle, so Belle became Belle Brittain.

Have to fly now, so remind me next time to tell you about Mary Lou Carver, Frank Carver, who became involved with Susan Carver, R.B. Keefer, and Irene Sims, plus Amy's descent into madness.

Another startling scene to leave you with:

Memorial Day 1968--Secret Storm finale.

This is a big remote outdoor location scene shot on film. It's a marina, with boat tied to dock's, a boardwalk, and a lake, river and/or swimming pool in which bathers are taking advantage of the holiday.

Amy and Belle's younger sister or cousin, have brought little Robin out to enjoy the holiday on the water, with a picnic lunch etc.

Whilst Amy etc. are distracted by the preparations for lunch, little Robin, (who can't swim) has wondered out onto the dock, where not knowing how deep it is and thinking she would like to try the water, jumps off the pier.

Whithin a few minutes she is in deep trouble flailing around but unable to call for help. Exhausted she eventually begins to be submerged.

Suddenly Amy notices Robin's absence as do others on pier. Amy dives in and begins a rescue effort, along with by standers. Everyone is swimming under to find Robin but to no avail.

As the organ begins to begin a series of mournful stings, the closing fade out shot is of Robin's little sailor cap bobbing on top of the water.

So unlike these unfortunates, I wish each of you a very safe Memorial Day holiday.

All Best,

BU

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+∞ :) This is so great.

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And I promise to take your advice and do my part about the preservation/making available this classic material. But even moreso, I wholeheartedly agree that there are folks out there who lived it and are more than willing to share their stories. Sites like WoST and We Love Soaps have proven this. In many cases, "We have not because we ask not."

Edited by SFK

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That's fascinating, that Joan took publicity photos for the show with other actors. I knew she had taken some on her own. I really wish that was available. I think that the idea became so shocking that Joan would fill in for her daughter that people never bothered to find out whether Joan had actually done a good job in the part. So Joan with Keith Charles? Wow, I'd love to see that. He went on to play Nick Davis for years and years on All My Children.

I love the story about Belle's daughter. It sounds chilling. Back then soaps seemed to be much more willing to kill off child characters, don't you think?

I was wondering -- do you remember when the show moved from black and white to color, and also, did you feel like, in those later years, the show became more "socially relevant," as some soaps did, or if it stayed in its own format?

Jada Rowland sounds great. I remember reading about some of the backstage stories of Secret Storm, when the crew would try to shock her when she was live on air. One time she had a scene in a bathroom and they had put her shoes in the toilet. She also talked about when a llama chased Gloria Monty around the studio. And one time when there was a kitchen scene and the entire shelf on the refrigerator crashed, and they had to carry on.

Did you notice any transition from live to live on tape or to tape at that time?

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I never got around to listening to that WoST interview Brian did with Jada (JAH-duh) Rowland, wish I had. :(

I read on Wiki that SS was the last soap to switch to color, wonder if that was reasoned financially or creatively.

The mere description of Robin seems a little dark and unsettling. Someone once posted a pic of Marla Adams and Nicolas Coster from SS and I admit to audibly gasping at how strikingly beautiful she was, this was years before I'd seen that clip on YouTube. I have a few scenes of her subbing for Carolyn Jones on Capitol.

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Final "Secret Storm" recollections.

Now a "Secret Storm" wrap up. First to answer a few questions. I don't remember much about Robin Strasser other than she was on "Another World" which I did not watch. Her part on SS escapes me now. Sorry.

Nor do I remember SS's switch to color in March '69 as we did not get our first color set until later in that same year, by which point the transition had already been effected. I do remember the color switch for most of the other CBS soaps--"Love of Life" and "As the World Turns" switched in the summer of 67, maybe 68--but definately summer. I know because the "Love of Life" plot was then heavy on the "Tess" storyline--and the switch to color got a lot of publicity. I was on summer vacation and "Love of Life" played at something like 12:30--right after Douglas Edwards and the News. Speaking of pretty women, like Marla Adams--Audrey Peters was very pretty in those days. Don't know why "SS" waited...?

After Robin's drowning, Belle directed all her venom at Amy. Although she was unable to make stick any reckless neglect charges in the incident, the whole episode weighed heavily on Amy's psyche. There were other issues for Amy as well such as to whether Paul would return to her life.

Back to Amy in a bit...

Susan Dunbar had by this time received word that her husband was MIA and presumed dead. About this time, a handsome, flamboyant young newsaper reporter named Frank Carver, (Laurence Luckenbill) arrived in Woodbridge to accept a position with Charlie Clemens newspaper.

Frank was in the middle of a split with his wife, Mary Lou Carver that was VERY acrimonious. Mary Lou was a blonde southern belle--the daughter of a Governor, but of what state I know not. Anyhow, she had quite a sting in her tail--and I remember many of her scenes ended with her slamming down the telephone receiver. Can't recall how she ended up leaving Woodbridge.

During Frank's split with Mary Lou, he and Susan fell and love and eventually, with Mary Lou out of the picture, they married.

By 1969 Amy's nerves were completely shot. One day, Susan came to visit, wearing her kilt and yellow long sleeved ribbed turtle neck sweater with a very long strand of beads, (as were then in fashion). Amy was transfixed by the beads, fingered them, and repeatedly asked Susan to bring them back. Alone in her room, she began talking to a doll in the evenings. Needless to say, all were concerned.

One rainy night Amy fled Woodbridge on a whim and boarded a bus headed out of state. On board, was a real character--Irene Sims, (Jennifer Darling) a petite, fast talking doxie who managed to ingratiate herself with Amy, as well as appropriate inside information regarding the Ames family.

When Amy was returned home by her family, (who managed to locate her) she told no one about Irene. Late one night, Amy was awakened from sleep by laughing in her bedroom. Amy arose from her bed and explored the room, but no one was in evidence--still the laughing continued--now taking on an unbalanced tone. Eventually, Amy sensed that the laughing was coming from inside her closet. Slowly she tiptoed to the closet, and gingerly pulled back the sliding louver--and there inside her closet sat Irene Sims laughing maniacally at Amy with a hellish gleam in her eyes!

Amy was justifiably alarmed, but no one could find any trace of this woman. A nightmare--it turned out to be--a recurring dream, and everytime I heard that creepy laughter coming from the closet and saw Irene situated in the dark behind the closet door in the dead of night it put me in a panic!

Around this time, it was announced with some fanfare that screen Romeo Troy Donahue was to join the cast of the "Secret Storm". Mr. Donahue's screen popularity was slipping and SS offered him an opportunity to interpret a role unlike any he had played in the movies--hippie criminal R.B. Keefer.

For this part, Mr. Donahue had long hair, a mustache and goatee--light years from "A Summer Place."

Although I don't recall how they were connected, it was Irene Sims, who brought R.B Keefer to Woodbridge and his first day on the show saw Irene meet Keefer in a bar where they began to confer on their plot.

Wish I could recall the details of their scheme, but at any rate it was directed at the Ames family.

Meantime, Valerie Ames brought in pychiatrist Ian Northcote on Amy's case. Dr. Northcote was a white haired, bearded man with a pipe, (you know the type--very Academic looking.) He and Valerie fell in love.

There was only one major problem, Ian had an identical twin who was pretty close to the devil incarnate, (yes this was far out!)

This Ian/Owen thing became very intense. It could never have been done when the show was live since they used an ingenious split screen technique that was absolutely brilliant. How they did it on video tape I don't know but they did...

Anyhow, Owen somehow became entangled with R.B. Keefer, (birds of a feather) and one day decided to do him in.

For this, SS somewhat replicated "Psycho" and as Mr. Donahue showered, (and sang) in his slum apartment Owen slipped in and stabbed him to death.

Donahue later told the press that the real reason he was murdered was because he couldn't carry a tune.

Owen, himself, was later killed paving the way for Ian and Val's happiness, (Miss March's real life husband, Alexander Scourby would later inherit the role).

About a year before this an intriguing neurotic pianist named Laurie had been introduced to the show. She was at least semi-psychotic and played the same scherzo over and over.

However, SS now changed the writing staff and a new completely normal, softer, Laurie, (Stephanie Braxton) took her place.

Also, Alan Dunbar, (now played by Liam Sullivan) returned to plane to Woodbridge in February 1971, suffering I think, from Amnesia.

Joel Croather's of Dark Shadows joined the cast as Ken Stephens and was romantically paired with Barbara Rodell, (late of Another World).

Around this time, SS was transmogrified into something quite unlike it's original self. Like a food product that has the same brand name, but a completely different flavor.

Amy was replaced for a while by Lynne Adams of GL, and then Jada Rowland came back. Amy herself was now hippified with long hair, and floor length paisley and floral peasant dresses. She became involved with the Kincaid character, (Kevin Kincaid) and they moved into a coverted barn. After he fell down the steps he was confined to a wheel chair and also suffered infertility.

This ushered in endless discussions of "artificial insemination". Simultaneously, the new Laurie became involved with a priest, Fr. Mark Reddin and the two began having an affair.

Belle was still around but now she was married to a senator.

SS had now abandoned the tight focus on the Ames family and was trying desparately to be "hep." It ended up merely being distasteful.

The original fans, (I knew elderly women who were die hard fans) were disaffected and confused by all this, and began to leave the show.

So did I. They were trying to dish us a product we had not purchased.

I hope these scattered memories help throw some light on the show and wish you the best in rounding up additional information from others in the future.

Incidentally, there is an old TV Guide on E-bay this week, (with ironically a very young pre-"Best of Everything" Patty McCormack on the cover) that features an article on SS. It's under Patty McCormack.

All best,

BU

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Thank you so much Brent! I have wanted to hear more about Joel Crothers's Secret Storm role for years, as that's what he left Dark Shadows for. Do you remember any of that?

This all sounds fascinating. Was Secret Storm the first soap to do an identical twin story? For some reason I always thought All My Children was, with Kitty/Kelly.

Were a lot of the soaps doing stories about hippies and bad counterculture types at this time? This was around the time Edge of Night had Dorothy Lyman as an evil hippie who tried to kill the show's young ingenue, wasn't it? The one with the rich widowed father.

That story about Amy and Irene sounds chilling.

You may have already seen this, but this is the first part of a Love of Life episode from around the time you may have been watching:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qblvMGB6Snc

I posted this in the other thread but in case anyone didn't see it in there, this is a Secret Storm from 1966:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJ7A5Sc0Pnc&feature=related

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